Walk & Talk showcases tourism success of Moray Estate

General News

The success of a Moray estate in diversifying its business despite the challenges of the pandemic has been showcased at a walk and talk event organised by rural business association, Scottish Land & Estates.

Duffus Estate, near Elgin, which is managed by owners Ed and Caroline Dunbar, saw plans to invest in its tourism and hospitality offering interrupted in March 2020.

With plans afoot to begin the redevelopment of Duffus House - previously leased to Gordonstoun School for 82 years – and a new self-catering eco-cabin also due to launch, the owners had to respond quickly to the loss of business when their existing holiday accommodation was closed during lockdown.

Undeterred, owners Ed and Caroline quickly recognised the opportunity presented by the increase in visitors to Duffus Castle as lockdown eased and started planning the Kula Coffee Hut, a custom-designed shepherd’s hut offering high quality barista coffee, speciality teas and home baking. The couple also used the time to further develop their plans for Duffus House while redesigning their website and revamping their self-catering and hospitality offering.

Now that plans are getting back on track, attendees at the walk and talk heard about Ed and Caroline’s plans to develop Duffus House into apartments and B&B suites, an event space and a café offering seasonal dishes based on the fantastic larder of NE Scotland.

There was also an opportunity to go to the Kula Coffee Hut and discover how the project came about, its ethos and how it has supported other local businesses. Attendees also visited the new eco-cabin overlooking Duffus Castle and the more traditional self-catering accommodation at a lodge on the estate.

There was also time to visit the Earthtime Forest School Nursery, which is located in the woods close to Duffus House and is supported by the estate. In 2020, Duffus Estate won a Helping it Happen award for its support of the outdoor learning initiative.

Fiona Van Aardt, North of Scotland Regional Coordinator at Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“The walk and talk was an excellent event to discuss the opportunities and challenges of diversifying a rural business into tourism and hospitality.

“Ed and Caroline were set to begin some fantastic developments at the start of the pandemic but had to adapt their focus quickly to deal with the challenges faced. They did so terrifically well and expanded their visitor attractions whilst taking time to improve other tools of the business such as their website.

“The event provided a chance to ask questions and discuss how their success could be replicated by other farms and estates. It was a great showcase of what can be achieved and our appreciation goes to Ed and Caroline for hosting.”

Find out about our upcoming schedule of events.